By The Modesto Bee | CALIFORNIA, US |
An intruder at the Sikh Temple Modesto Ceres broke windows late Thursday at a priest’s home on temple grounds, punched the priest, shouted obscenities and told him to go back to his own country before fleeing, according to the priest and others associated with temple.
Amarjit Singh, with the help of temple members who translated some of his comments, said he was in his bedroom about 9:30 p.m. when the glass in two bedroom windows was broken. He said he lifted the blinds of one of the windows to look out and was punched in the neck before his attacker, who he said was wearing a mask, fled.
It was “country, country, country, go back, go back, country,” he said without the help of a translator. He said his attacker also yelled obscenities at him and had something in his hand to break the windows. Singh assumes the intruder ran off in the temple’s nearby overflow, dirt parking lot.
Singh is one of two head priests at the temple, which is at Santa Fe Avenue and East Hatch Road, near Hughson. Singh’s brother, Manjit, is the other head priest.
Modesto Councilman Mani Grewal, who is a member of the temple and has served as its secretary, considers this a hate crime and said it is part of pattern going back a decade or longer of attempts to harass and intimidate temple members, though this was the worst incident.
But U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, issued a statement condemning the incident and calling it a hate crime.
“I stand with my friends in the Sikh community at this terrible time,” Harder said. “Every American – regardless of faith – should be able to practice their religion freely and without fear of violence. This disgusting attack is not representative of who we are, and we must find the person responsible.”
The Central Valley has one of the largest and oldest Sikh populations in the United States. The first Sikh temple, or gurdwara, in the United States opened in Stockton more than a century ago. There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs in the United States and 25 million worldwide making it the fifth most popular religion. It originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
Read full story, ‘Priest at Sikh Temple near Hughson assaulted in apparent hate crime’, at The Modesto Bee (26 July 2019), here.
Sikh man attacked in ‘despicable hate crime’ in California says ‘turban saved’ him – Report (Asia Samachar, 8 Aug 2018)